119 (Northgate – Beachmont)

In my last post, I visited Beachmont and found a hidden gem of a neighborhood. Besides marking one more station off my list, I decided in going there that it’d give me a great reason to ride the 119, what with the ability to make a connection with my home route(s) near its opposite end. Little did I know that this route was as much of a hidden gem as one of its terminals.

The 119 begins in earnest right outside Beachmont’s entrance, at a stop which unwittingly says “Beachmont” which may be confusing to outsiders as it refers more to the neighborhood to the east as it does the station along the Blue Line. Heading along Winthrop Avenue, it goes into the Beachmont neighborhood which is made mostly of single family houses, relatively unspectacular by most accounts. That is until the end of Winthrop Avenue in which the 119 meets a very picturesque view of the water, wrapping around from Winthrop to Revere Beach. The view might rival the 439 on its approach to Nahant though it’s closeness doesn’t have the fear of the SL2’s stretch paralleling the waterfront.

From there, the 119 works its way in a loop around Beachmont until returning to Bennington Street where briefly parallels the Blue Line as it decends to the surface before turning back on Winthrop Avenue, ducking under the tracks again. After passing the Suffolk Downs stables, the rear entrance to Suffolk Downs plaza, and an abandoned Shaw’s, it works its way through more residental areas before reaching Revere Center for a brief stretch down Broadway. After that, more of the fun begins, as the 119 goes through several neighborhoods as it winds northward and westward, the most prominent being the Cooledge Housing community. While on this stretch, some turns and roads being a tight fit for a 40′ bus; though not as out there as some of the more rural routes in the Commonwealth such as the FRTA and BRTA out west, it’s still out there by MBTA standards.

Eventually, the 119 works its way onto Malden Street and to Linden Square and having some reason to go the Stop & Shop there, I press the button to get off. I then pass thinking that the 119 will make a right onto Squire Road/MA 60. This is false as it does a quick loop around Linden Square, briefly entering and exiting Malden in the process and as anyone who’s navigated that area knows, it gets jammed quickly and it took us a good five minutes to get to the “main stop for said Stop & Shop (and Showcase Cinemas across the street). I then got off knowing that the 119 only makes a couple more stops until the currently-in-transition Northgate Shopping Center. Though there isn’t much that would get me there anytime soon outside of the view and maybe one of those roast beef sandwiches, the 119 is a route worth riding.

Route: 119 (Northgate-Beachmont)
Rating (1-10): 8

Ridership: About six of us boarded for the Beachmont loop, replacing six who got off and a few that stayed on.. Those who missed the bus walked either up to Bennington Street or down Winthrop Avenue to board the bus and by the time we passed the abandoned Shaw’s, we had a good load of around 20, topping off at 30 by Revere Center. Blue Line passengers were heading home, those who got on en route were headed to either Linden or Northgate. 12 people remained when I got off while a couple got on.

Pros: The Beachmont loop is one of the more underrated scenic stretches on the MBTA. It’s also an important cross-Revere link that links West Revere and Beachmont to Revere Center and it’s fairly well patronized.

Cons: Poor midday and night service (70 minute headways with one bus), no weekend night service, and a late Sunday start are downsides. Even if the loop is omitted during those hours, it’d be something for those going across Revere.

Nearby and Noteworthy: Neither has a website, but Beachmont Roast Beef and Toretta’s bakery seem from my limited interaction with both legit, old-school places with great food.

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